Nurturing More than Grapesin Sonoma County’s Wine Region
by Sondra Sneed
From a Japanese-inspired day spa sanctuary, to the lush gardens of a secret wedding venue; destination wedding guests are invited to taste the creameries, meaderies, wineries and distilleries that commune with organic farms and dairies. These locally-owned businesses are what dot the hillsides of Sonoma County, California. Agri-loving residents represent the “cult” in cultivation.
The organic and farm-to-table movements began here and that spirit remains a way of life. Destination wedding guests will be served-up a fresh feast for the senses, as mother Earth’s bounty is celebrated by tourists and locals alike.
There is so much to do in this 1,800-square mile area – with its 435 wineries alone, dubbing it the Bordeaux of the U.S. — that your wedding party, parents, and guests will plan a vacation around your nuptials. Thirty miles north of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge on a stretch of Hi-way 1, lies coast and sea villages, nature parks, redwoods and rivers, wineries and vineyards, with wine and cheese tasting tours running through it all. But don’t try to organize an excursion like this alone. To plan an affordable wedding in the area, you’ll need a local guide who can put you on the right path.
Stephanie Brown, owner of Off the Beaten Path Signature Experiences, specializes in Sonoma County weddings and wine tours. This hard-working planner, caterer, and entrepreneur, resources growers and makers of the region. Her purpose is to bring her clients as close to the source of their food and drink as possible, for a truly down to earth, regional taste.
Brown says, “by pulling from the locals, [their harvests of the season], even the flowers are fresher and last longer. You get a higher quality product, without the price tag of a high-end event. And it supports local, organic growers and producers, and artisans, alike. Everyone involved benefits.” Including the land and animals. Brown’s an expert at bringing interesting and unique details to her events giving her Texas clients a once-in-a-lifetime edutainment opportunity, as well.
Did You Know?
Of course, you comprehend wine comes from grapes. And maybe you know ciders come from apples. But were you aware of wine made from honey? It’s called mead, and it is made at a meadery. Mead is a word derived from the Welsh word which means “healing liquor” and yet it dates back as far as ancient Egypt.
Mead maker, Gordon Hull, former geologist-turned master fermenter, and founder of Heidrun Meadery has created a drink that will haunt you long after the first glass.
“I always felt a fermented honey drink should be very light, refreshing, and pleasurable, and should taste like the honey it’s made from.” To achieve that, Hull employs techniques in honey bee management, by allowing his bees to forage on diverse botanicals, which he also grows on his farm. You can actually taste what the bees graze upon, as the effervescence climbs the fluted glass to explode in your mouth.
Porting Wine Home
There’s no doubt you’ll find favorites that you’ll want to take back with you. VinGarde Valise makes a safe way to travel with wine. Their roller case can be checked as luggage and is super easy to roll through the airport. Visit vingardevalise.com to order. You’ll also carry home a wealth of new knowledge.
A marriage remains viable through love, compassion, and joy. But even true love has its seasons. So too, is it true about the earth and her production. Eating seasonally allows for supportable pastoralism, and Front Porch Farms, a working farm and event venue practices this sustainable edict. The produce, livestock, and even wedding flowers align with the season’s harvest.
Front Porch Farm’s backdrop is a beautiful hillside vineyard that skirts the bank of the Russian River. The farm animals and gardens make for an unforgettable, idyllic setting for nature lovers and foodies alike.
Organic Cheese, Milk, & Cream
Cowgirl Creamery’s “how cheese is made” tour, is a stop worth making in the quaint town of Point Reyes Station, CA. Co-founder Sue Conley was inspired to build the business back in 1997, when she met Ellen Strauss, matriarch of the Straus Family Creamery. The Straus family is famous for their development of organic dairy techniques, which has evolved since the seventies. Due to the Straus’s efforts, nearly 90% of the dairy farms in Marin and Sonoma Counties in Northern California are certified organic today.